According to the meteorologists (and just about every media outlet) we are in for a very wet Winter. Depending on where you live and work, this may just mean miserable traffic, or it might mean flooding, mudslides and worse. One thing we can always count on when it rains in Southern California is less reliable internet connectivity. On its best day SoCal is ill-prepared for any sort of weather other than the mild temperate climate we normally enjoy, and severe weather invariably impacts all of the major ISPs in the area. I can say without a doubt that while every single ISP labors unceasingly to improve the reliability and speed of their networks, but they all rely on physical infrastructure that is sometimes (oftentimes) outside of their direct control. Most of that is copper wire or optical fiber that is distributed through poles, buried cable lines, and subterranean tunnels, all of which are subject to the forces of nature. To top it all off, all of the internet traffic in the world passes through an absurdly small number of chokepoints, including one in Downtown LA that, last year, was taken out temporarily by a car crashing into the building lobby where it’s located. And it wasn’t even raining that day. Not convinced? Northern California experienced multiple widespread outages recently due to malicious parties physically cutting subterranean fiber lines that would seem to be too easy to access.
What this means for you:
Hopefully you have built a business sustainable enough to withstand an internet outage of an hour or two, but what if that outage were to last an entire day, or, even worse, multiple days? Most of my clients are savvy enough to know how to get work done from other locations, and many of them use cellular broadband on a regular basis, but what if your entire company had to figure out how to work from another location because the internet was down? Even worse, what if your building was flooded or rendered uninhabitable/unreachable because of the weather? While it would be impossible to provide a comprehensive guide on what to do in these types of situations, here is are a few questions that should help you start planning for that inevitable rainy day we will all face at some point:
- Who provides your internet service? Do you have their contact information handy some place other than your office?
- Who provides your phone service? Is it tied to your internet service? What happens to inbound calls when your phones are offline?
- Who hosts your email? Is it provided by a server in your office? What would happen if your customers/clients could not reach you via phone or email for any length of time?
- Do the primary operations of your business rely on the internet in some form or other? e.g. point of sale systems, call centers, web servers, etc. How much revenue might be lost if you were “offline” for a day? A week?
- Do you have a way of communicating with your co-workers or employees if the main office is “offline”? What about your vendors, clients and customers?
A sustainable and successful business must be able to operate in adverse conditions, and most importantly, not have the internet be a critical failure point. We are still a ways away from a highly reliable information superhighway, so make sure you have a rainy day plan ready.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net